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Rear fender rust - 2001 Outback Wagon


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6 replies to this topic

#1 cagranitz

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 03:19 PM

I haven't seen this mentioned while searching the forums, so I thought I would add to the collective knowledge :)

2001 Outback Wagon, 130,000 miles, started developing bubbled paint due to rust under the surface on the opposite corners of each rear fender (wheel well). The rust spots were right where the plastic bumper cover and the plastic trim piece near the rear door meet the sheetmetal. This was on both sides of the car in the rear only.

I finally decided to do something about it and took things apart and cleaned off the bubbled paint and rust using a wire wheel. As it is with rust, once I got further into the removal process, I discovered that the damage was much greater than I thought. Fairly large holes had developed near what appeared to be just surface rust. In addition, a large hole had developed in the body sheetmetal area just below the lower rear door (where the forward curve of the rear fender area transitions to the rocker panel section).

My brother was able to patch everything up for me using Bondo-Glass and POR-15 paint (Thanks Bro !)

I was still curious why this happened on a relatively late model car, especially since my wife has a 2000 Outback Wagon with no signs whatsoever of the same rust problem. Furthermore, I've kept an eye out for other Outback Wagons of the same vintage on the road and I have never seen another with the same rust problem.

After looking more carefully at the 2001, it appears that the rubber protective pieces that are press fit onto the curved edge of the rear fender (basically between the 2 plastic pieces I mentioned above), were not installed properly. The rubber pieces have an upper edge that is supposed to seal against the inner part of the fender to cause water to drain out properly. In my case, the rubber edge was creased downward in several locations. This seems to have caused water to get channeled under the rubber piece and run down and collect at the locations that rusted :(

Also, for some seemingly unrelated reason, I had some bubbled paint from rust under the forward edge of the radio antenna mount. Again, absolutely no signs of this on my wifes car that is a year older.

My car is in excellent mechanical condition. I am just hoping that the body will last long enough for me to get to at least 200,000 miles :)

#2 bheinen74

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 03:25 PM

Did you buy this car new?
Or did you buy this car used? Could have been repainted, and/Or they could have pulled the rubber protector molding off and reinstalled it haphazardly.

If you bought this new, then I would be a little concerned. what was the manufacture date of this car, located on the door jamb or vin plate? A 2001 could have been manufactured in late 2000, so a 9 year old car, heck, we have 3 year old cars here in Iowa with rust. salt does that. no biggie.
The company Dodge truck has 16,000 miles on it and it has a hole in the quarter panel from rustout. Maybe your car was driven in Iowa, or flooded in its precious life.....too many things to factor in, it will pass no worries

#3 cagranitz

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 07:38 PM

We bought both cars used from the local Subaru dealer. The 2001 had 56,000 miles on it when I bought it. I don't think it was repainted. I do recall that one of the cars was originally purchased in Mt Pocono, PA which is a snowier/saltier area. I was thinking it simply may have been neglected early on by the original owner. I think the manufacture date for the 2001 is March 2001. Now that I am armed with Bondo-Glass and POR-15 I think I can make it last :)

#4 Petersubaru

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 08:42 PM

those rubber pieces along the fender lip don't work very well and it only takes a small stone chip for that rust to develope..myself, I took the rubber pieces off just because it is easier to see if anything unwanted is taking place there ..this design is subarus way of cutting costs..other countries even for that year had the full one piece molding covering the entire rear fender and also the front fender

#5 gbhrps

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 09:07 PM

My last OBW LTD, an 02, developed the surface rust issue right at the joint between the rear bumper cover and the body, at the the rear arch opening. In fact, when the bumper cover was peeled back, it was found that the 10 mm bolt located there was seized entirely, and broke off with the small tab from the body.

It was obvious to me that the rubber welting/seal that the factory used on the seam around the well arch opening had trapped water and road salt and done its worst. On my car it was only on one side though, and was entirely surface rust. I caught it early (white car) and it was an easy fix, other than the pearlized paint was difficult to match. The quarter panel was painted 3 times before the colour was correct.

#6 cagranitz

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 11:23 AM

I am planning to leave the rubber piece off at this point. I assume it's there to protect the fender lip from stone chips, but I would rather keep an eye on that possibility and repair it as needed rather than risk having water trapped in there again.

#7 yohy

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 03:58 PM

cagranitz, rust in this location on the Subarus is quite common, although a bit premature on a 2001. Both my '93 and to some extent on my '97, had rust in those areas. One other trouble spot is the dog leg behind the front wheel opening. The attached picture is what I pulled out of my son's '03 Impreza when I put splash guards on it last summer. I have found this point a catch all for road dirt on all of my Subaru's including the Legacy, Impreza and the Forester. Everytime I wash any of the cars, I direct a strong stream of water into the front fender. As strange as it sounds, open either of the front doors and you will see openings into the front fenders (around the hinge locations), just direct a strong stream into the fender openings. If you have never done this, get ready to be blown away by what you flush out, really.

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